Blog Post

Hello! & Introductions & The Basic Stuff

Hi digitologists! [is that a thing? can we just say it's a thing?]

Before I dive into this massive, wonderful organization with all its blogs and links and resources, I just want to quickly introduce myself and my research interests.

I am currently a 1st year PhD candidate in English Literature at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. I came here directly from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City where I completed my MA in English Literature. Prior to that, I was at the University of Colorado Denver where, I'm sure you'll be shocked to hear, I majored in... English Literature. Basically this is all I've ever wanted to do since I was of any age to seriously understand concepts like "what I want to do with my life." Before that age though, I wanted to live in an aquarium.

My interest in digital humanities began when I was in Utah taking a Narrative Theory & Practice class in which we read a lot of hypertextual codices that required digitally oriented reading practices [i.e. Danielewski's House of Leaves and Pavic's Dictionary of the Khazars]. I spent much of my time with my fellow grad students, mostly those in the PhD Creative Writing track, discussing the ways in which the digital can function like the analog, and vice versa. I organized a group of four of my Utah colleagues into a conference panel that addressed reading practices and the concept of the page in digital/analog literatures and we presented that panel at the 2011 &Now conference, held that year at UC San Diego. One of my panelists created a work of digital poetry--broken sonnets that move across a computer screen and interacted with each other in different ways [and he would be absolutely furious if I didn't mention that this is still a work in progress] . Another panelist created six interlocking Möbius strips on which were written the words of six different obsessive narrators. The digital piece required little action on the part of the user other that watching the screen, whereas the physical piece, the six strips of paper, was very hypertextual, forcing the reader to make their own choices in how they read each strip in relation to the others. This got me thinking about the nature of digital literature, its place in our contemporary scene, and its ever shifting definition[s]. Which brings me to the present.

The more I think about the kinds of literatures that are either created digitally or require digitally oriented reading practices, the more I feel at a loss regarding how to approach these works as a scholar. I am inclined to approach them on their own terms and critique them using their own tools, but I find that that often leads to gimmicky ideas that are only flashy and lack depth. So what I'm currently investigating at USC is how literary scholars can engage with these texts in a serious, critical fashion that still utilizes the tools of DH without distracting from the significance of the argument itself.

Anyway, that's my focus in a nutshell. I promise that future blog entries will be more entertaining now that I have the basics out of the way.

I can't wait to "meet" you all!

A

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